Renowned journalists and media figures have
been eager to voice their concerns for the future of journalism and to expound
its importance while the police adopt a seemingly more hostile stance towards
the media and News Corporation is beset by yet more allegations of wrong
Defendants of investigative journalism have
been speaking out, following what many regard as alarming attempts by the Metropolitan
Police to invoke the official secrets act against The Guardian. The director General of the BBC Mark Thompson has voiced his
concern for the future of the craft of investigative journalism in what he described as a “dangerous time” for the profession.
The cries to protect the freedom of
journalists to investigate thoroughly risk being lost amid the overwhelming
atmosphere of public reproach and resentment felt toward one particular
journalistic organisation: News International.
It is now alleged that The News of the World hacked the phone of reality television star Jade Goody and Tony Blair’s former director of communications Alistair Campbell. The former deputy editor of NoW, Neil Wallis, also failed to disclaim that he was still in the pay of the paper whilst working as a PR consultant at Scotland Yard. NoW paid £25,000 to Wallis so that, using his position inside the force, he could provide them with “crime exclusives”.
As the seemingly unending string of revelations continues, it is easy to see why pubic distrust of the media is so high; it is also, therefore, easy to understand why there have been so many calls for alternate forms of regulation.
Yet Stephen Glover has made the case, in an editorial for The Independent, that the merits of self regulation should not be forgotten. A strong press makes for a strong democracy – and Glover argues that, despite News International‘s all-pervasive, no-holds-barred approach to journalism and their subsequent flagrant disregard for ethics, the press is not too powerful, rather, it is too weak.
The threat of statutory regulation would only damage the press further and cement Mark Thompson’s assertion that the climate for journalism is indeed “dangerous”. It seems that with public sentiment and the British authorities becoming ever more hostile towards news media, it will become yet more important to speak out in its defence.
Sources: The Guardian (1), (2), The Independent (1), (2)